State Government

Gervais: ‘Housing-first’ no solution for homelessness 

State has spent $160K per homeless person already, but problem persists

Dickens Festival, Rochester.
21st century homelessness is starting to remind us of the bad old days of Charles Dickens, a Vermont House candidate says. Openverse photo of a Dickens revival.

by Joe Gervais 

We need to get to the root causes for homelessness – mental health and addiction – and solve those first, rather than the failed “housing first” or housing-only approaches tried by the Democrat administrations. 

Currently Vermont has exhausted COVID money allocated for homeless housing just as we approach winter. Yet because of the housing-only approach to the problem without accountability from the homeless, many, if not most, are still dependent on the enabling the government has been perpetuating. As the former spouse of someone who succumbed to addiction, I was taught never to remove their dignity by doing for them something they could do for themselves.  

“Because of the housing-only approach to the problem without accountability from the homeless, many, if not most, are still dependent on the enabling the government has been perpetuating.”Because of the housing-only approach to the problem without accountability from the homeless, many, if not most, are still dependent on the enabling the government has been perpetuating.”

– Joe Gervais

My dad lives in California. Driving freeways in the central valley this past spring, I saw the shoulders lined with homeless encampments. Is this what we want in Vermont? My opponents in this race are lauding the $300 million of our hard-earned tax money they are spending on housing. In the past six years, the housing-first policy has spent an average of $160,000 per homeless Vermont resident, yet we still have the crisis today.  

Addressing symptoms without addressing the root cause does not solve the problem. The California Policy Lab Study cited in the Epoch Times article noted that out of 65,000 participants, 51% self-identified as addiction contributing to their homelessness and 50% self-identified mental health issues leading to their loss of housing. Bruce Chapman, founder and head of the Discovery Institute, compared the situation to the dismal social conditions depicted in popular 19th century novels. 

“It’s Dickensian; it goes back to the kind of things you saw in the 18th and 19th centuries.” 

As Legislators, we are entrusted by the public to be good stewards of the public funds. Misguided spending is contributing to the inflation every American is experiencing. Vermonters are not happy about the $600-a-month tax that inflation has added to our budgets. I vow to drive and support practical legislation that truly solves problems rather than just looking pretty in a newsletter.  

Joe Gervais of Arlington is the Republican candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives in the Bennington-4 district. 

Categories: State Government

8 replies »

  1. (I got’cha’ as soon as you said ‘California’ where they put up pylons, divets, spikes and rubber bumpers to prevent homeless from resting)

    Sure a lot of blame to go everywhere but where it belongs:
    On those who are deciding how much rent can be charged, who is eligible (not if you’re unvaxxed), and those deciding its okay to pollute our airwaves with radiation levels 150,000 times what they were 5 years ago, here in Vermont..
    …mental health and addiction my arse.

    Homelessness is a far more more complex issue that addiction and mental illness would cover… its starts with being Godless.

  2. The answer lies in not throwing gasoline on the fire with increased funding to make the world more comfortable but with addressing the underlying mental illness associated with the condition. Who in their right mind wants to live in these squalid conditions?

    Unfortunately, there are those that want to say that is their given right to choose that path. The right may exist, but needs to end when their choice becomes our burden that the choice may be fulfilled. Add to this the pervasive drug use/abuse ( another in the apparent right to choose rights). We have been told repeatedly that addition is a disease but it started out as choice. Portraying them all the times of victims only adds to the problem.

    Accountability has been lost for those who have gone this path. We are accountable to support the mental illness with treatment and facilities. Launching them into homelessness into the community is not a solution nor is warehousing these people in hotels up and down the state. Professional mental health treatment and associated living facilities would serve us all better than our current path and shuffle game.

  3. I feel that many of the homeless individuals are not real Vermonters but individuals that came here for the benefits, addicted or mental problems🇺🇸 When I was young in Massachusetts one had to prove residency for one year before receiving any state benefits and that’s the way Vermont could solve this problem of to many individuals. Let’s help our own people, not other states residents 🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • That mist have been a while back when you actually had to justify your needs. In Vermont, homeless benefits are given out strictly on the honor system. All you have to do is “claim” to be homeless and the motel vouchers get issued.

  4. There’s also lots of bureaucratic fat in these funded housing projects. People on these boards are heavily financially compensated and most of them are already well off. People need to remember, when a government is big enough to give you everything you need, its also big enough to take everything you have.

  5. I vehemently disagree with Mr. Gervais! Lack of ability to pay rent causes homelessness. This in turn leads to confusion and both mental and physical stress.
    I’ve been homeless twice in my life, for years on end. The emphasis on mental illness as a cause of homelessness has led to countless programs of housing for the “mentally ill” homeless, while excluding others. This violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are countless outreaches scheduled where people can come to be rubber stamped as ‘mentally ill” in order to qualify. In most instances, there is no actual examination. This is insidious.
    It leads to huge expenditures for “treatment”, most often including drugs, all paid for by tax money.
    In N.J., I was denied affordable housing, as the thrust was to force me into the mental health system. The official story was that I’d turned down the housing offered. This was easily disprovable, had I had any real advocacy. Such advocacy exists only on paper in countless states.
    Nor was I addicted to any drugs.
    The extended behavioral health system is itself perpetuating homelessness..

    • It’s very hard when you get labeled as a mental case. Rather than seeing your legitimate issues people just see mental illness. You become a problem to be disposed of.

  6. I have been questioning just how serious this homeless crisis really is. I see panhandlers standing by the interstate off ramp with signs. I offered one of them some food and they responded with “I can’t use that.” If they are hungry, they will eat what is offered or did they need a few bucks toward their next dose or bottle of liquor? I also have seen for myself a woman hobbling over to where she would hold her sign. About a half hour later, she was walking with a man, smiling and laughing, and walking just fine.
    I know someone here will say, “Isolated incidents” but I beg to differ as I’ve seen one on TV years back saying, “I’m a licensed plumber but why should I work for minimum wage?” So I question how bad this is or if it’s just them, the media and sympathizers putting on a heavy guilt trip.

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